When you can’t dine out, being able to dine in becomes important again.
Face-diapering and other idiocies (and tyrannies) have made it unpleasant to dine out; who wants to eat a meal looking across a plexiglass partition at a leper – to whom you look just the same? It makes one pine for the days at the Chinese buffet when you risked someone sneezing on the General Tso’s chicken . . . but not a Hut! Hut! Hutting! by sickness psychotics.
Soon, we may be pining for food of any kind. And diapering up may not get you any – at the buffet or the grocery store.
If – as Burt Reynold’s character in the movie, Deliverance had it – the system does fail, what are you going to do about food?
I got chickens – not the rotisserie kind. The renewable kind. Also the kind that doesn’t have to be refrigerated. Ducks, too. The Pekin kind . . . not the Peking kind.
I’ve had birds before. When I was married and mostly for fun. They are enjoyable to have around – it’s fun to let them free range in the yard and the fresh eggs can’t be beat, for taste or nutrition (look into this, if you are worried about cholesterol; eggs from free-range birds are very healthy whereas store bought eggs from caged and corn-fed hens aren’t).
But I got them again because it’s a hedge against the absence of eggs – and more – in stores. And against the presence of violence where the stores are. Self-sufficiency is more than just a virtue.
Chickens (more on ducks in a minute) aren’t hard to keep and five or six of them will provide you with more eggs than you can eat – if it’s just you – and enough to keep your family eating – if your family isn’t the Brady Bunch. A good laying hen will generally deliver 1-2 eggs a day or more.
Times five or six and you’re not going hungry.
Eggs are a super food. They are self-contained protein and vitamin modules that do not even require refrigeration – unlike store-bought eggs, which do. The reason for this is that store-bought eggs are washed by decree of Uncle. Which washes away something called the bloom – which is a coating applied by the hen as she lays the egg that keeps it fresh (and viable, if fertilized).
The eggs you buy at the store have had their bloom washed away and so will go bad soon if not kept cold, which can be difficult to maintain if there’s no power. But there are no worries if you get your eggs at the coop. They will stay fresh without cold.
That they are also delicious – and nutritious – is the perk.
Even more so that you don’t have to buy them. Or go farther than your back yard to get them.
And if you have a rooster to go with your hens, you will have renewable layers. Eat some eggs, let some hatch – and grow into new birds. You can also eat some of the birds, of course – though I don’t do that; I get too attached to my avian friends to put them on the table.
Chickens are cheap to get – about $3 per chick, if you start that way and maybe twice that for an already grown hen (check Craigs and other classifieds that advertise farm-related stuff). You can build – or buy – the necessary coopage, which also doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive – just functional. The idea being to provide them shelter from predators and a place to lay and sleep.
Keeping five or six birds does not require a farm – or even acreage. Provided you haven’t got an HOA, you can keep them in the back yard of a suburban home. Hens are generally quiet and friendly; most normal people like seeing them and won’t object. And if the system does fail, who cares if they do?
You’ll be eating. They won’t be.
Speaking of eating. During the summer months, you can let your chickens roam and eat what chickens eat naturally, such as bugs/worms and grass and so on. They eat largely free – and healthy, for them and for you. They are also excellent food disposal systems – of the leftover food you might otherwise throw away. They’ll eat it – and convert it into new food.
You will want to get some feed (and grit) to supplement them in summer and to have in winter, when the bugs are gone and grass is less. A 100 pound bag costs about $27 and will support 5-6 birds for a month or more.
As for the ducks . . .
I got them for the variety. Their eggs are larger and richer. Not everyone likes the taste, though – me included. But ducks can be amiable backyard buddies and some of them are decent guard birds, too. They will raise the alarm if someone – or some thing – violates your landspace.
Geese, apparently, are even better. A large grey goose is an intimidating bird.
In any event, a feathered hedge against what might be headed our way. It might be something you want to consider, too. While you can still easily get chicks, supplies to build the coop and so on.
Tomorrow, that might not be possible – and then it’ll be too late.
. . .
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